Evidence that spanking alters the brain

© 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved As disciplinary tactics go, spanking is ineffective, and it may be harmful, too. A new study suggests that spanking alters the brain, making kids more reactive to potential threats, and more at risk for developing behavior problems. Over the years, I’ve followed the research on spanking, and Read More »

How to communicate with your teenager: Key signals to send

Families are better off when teenagers communicate openly with their parents. But how do we inspire better communication? An experimental study shows the way: We need to provide kids with crucial signals of active, supportive listening. Not only does it make kids feel better. It also encourages them to confide in us.

Why kids rebel (and what we can to encourage cooperation)

© 2018 – 2021 GWEN DEWAR, PH.D., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Is childhood rebellion inevitable? Not really. Most kids are ready to be cooperative. But they recognize limits to our power: They resist when they perceive us as trying to control their personal lives. So what’s the solution? Be fair-minded. Listen to their requests. Give kids Read More »

Hunter-gatherers subsidize families…for the benefit of everyone

© 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Egalitarian, cooperative, and fiercely-protective of their personal freedoms, hunter-gatherers are also very practical. They know that parents can’t afford to raise kids without help. So everybody pitches in — and society thrives. Family subsidies. Childcare help. Support for parents struggling to make ends meet. We sometimes talk Read More »

Bad role models: What happens when adults lie to children?

kids listening and looking skeptical, by Elaine Sanchez, DOD

© 2018 – 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved What happens when adults lie to children? The evidence suggests that kids become more dishonest with us, and not only that: When we make a practice of telling children lies, kids may be at a higher risk of developing aggressive and antisocial behavior problems. How Read More »

Parenting stress: 12 evidence-based tips for making life better

© 2016 – 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Parenting stress puts a strain on the whole family — sapping patience, damaging relationships, eroding well-being.  What can we do about it? Here are some suggestions inspired by the latest research.  1. Need social support? Reach out — even if it’s just a phone call Read More »

Raising helpful kids: Tips for teaching generosity and kindness

young boy helping his friend on roller skates stand up - by Pahis / istock

© 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved How do you teach kids to be helpful?  To be generous and kind? Studies suggest we should avoid heavy-handed tactics and bribes. Instead, we need to respect — and nurture — our children’s natural inclinations to do good. Helpful? Generous? Caring? Psychologists call these behaviors “prosocial,” and Read More »

Parenting stress: What causes it, and how does it change us?

Woman holding her head - eyes closed - stressed. By David Garrison - pexels

© 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Parenting stress damages your well-being, and it may alter the course of your child’s development. How does stress affect parenting, and what can we do about it? What is “parenting stress?”  What do psychologists mean by the term? According to psychologists, parenting stress is the distress you Read More »

Stress in babies: How to keep babies calm, happy, and emotionally healthy

closeup, black and white father kissing a smiling baby - by Kathy Tegtmeyer / flickr (creative commons)

© 2015 – 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Why should we care about stress in babies? Nobody wants a stressed-out baby. The stress is contagious, making everyone miserable. And when the stress is chronic — a regular feature of everyday life — children face long-term health consequences. If babies are exposed to high levels Read More »

The effects of praise: 7 evidence-based tips for using praise wisely

smiling mother and young son riding piggy back by William Prost flickr

© 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved What are the effects of praise? It depends. Praise can boost good feelings and increase motivation. It can inspire children to be more cooperative, persistent, and hard-working. But some kids bristle in response to praise, and even those who like praise can experience negative effects. Here’s how Read More »